Volume 45 - N. 1
June 2021

Avocetta
Volume 45 - N. 1
Volume 45 - N.1, June 2021



  1. Editorial - Mind the (gender) gap: prospects and strategies for women's career in ornithology

    Benedetta Catitti, Daniela Campobello, Gaia Bazzi, Giulia Masoero, Letizia Campioni

    Abstract     Read Article       Download
    148 359
  2. An assessment of the current and historical distribution of the Corncrake Crex crex in the Western Italian Alps

    Riccardo Alba, Giacomo Assandri, Giovanni Boano, Filippo Cravero & Dan Chamberlain

    Abstract     Read Article       Download
    123 355

    Agricultural intensification and mechanization are major threats to
    farmland birds in Europe. The Corncrake Crex crex was a common and
    widespread species in rural landscapes in Italy, but its numbers
    strongly declined in most of its former range in the last half of the
    20th century. Although it is a well-studied species in the Eastern
    Italian Alps, where most of the Italian population now occurs, there is
    no published information from the Western part of the range. This study
    aimed to describe the distribution of the Corncrake in the regions of
    Piedmont and Aosta Valley, taking into account both historical and
    recent records. Additionally, we assessed the habitat in which
    apparently breeding individuals were found. Overall, 78 occurrences of
    this species were recorded in the study region. Migrating individuals
    occurred at lower elevations, whilst possible breeding records were
    located at higher elevations in meadow-pastures and secondary
    grasslands. Two main current hotspots were identified in the Chisone
    Valley and in the valleys in the province of Cuneo, which represent the
    core areas for the species in Piedmont and Aosta Valley. The observation
    trend shows a possible recovery of the population at the regional
    scale, although a large-scale dedicated survey is needed to estimate
    population size. In 2020, the highest number of singing males in one
    site (5) was recorded with individuals observed above 1800 m.
    Conservation measures at a regional scale addressing grassland
    management (including mowing and grazing) might benefit the species and
    promote a wider recolonization of the area.

  3. CISO-COI CHECK-LIST OF ITALIAN BIRDS - 2020

    Nicola Baccetti, Giancarlo Fracasso & Commissione Ornitologica Italiana (COI)

    Abstract     Read Article       Download
    342 893

    This paper upgrades and updates the checklist of the bird species
    recorded in Italy between 1800 and 2019. For the first time, it also
    includes subspecies. The classification, taxonomy and English names are
    based on «The Handbook of the Birds of the World & BirdLife
    International Checklist». The Italian list contains at present 550
    species and 702 taxonomic units, including in the latter both the
    subspecies and the monotypic species. Each of them has been allocated to
    the AERC categories A, B or C according to four different frequency
    codes. Since the publication of the previous list (2009), 24 species
    have been added. The currently breeding avifauna includes 287 species:
    additional 10 species are regarded as nationally extinct breeders. The
    Italian checklist, that will be regularly updated, is available on the
    website of the CISO-COI
    (https://ciso-coi.it/coi/checklist-ciso-coi-degli-uccelli-italiani/).

  4. Short note - First record of Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus laying in a Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus nest

    Awatif Talbi, Farrah Samraoui, Laid Touati, Boudjema Samraoui, Corrado Battisti

    Abstract     Read Article       Download
    91 304

    We discuss the possible mechanisms explaining the potential brood
    parasitism between Little Bittern and Common Moorhen by reporting the
    first case worldwide of a Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus laying on a
    nest of Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus recorded at Boussedra Pond
    (Algeria, Northern Africa). In this regard we review the cases of
    possible brood parasitism between Little Bittern and Common Moorhen.

  5. Short note - Barn Owl Tyto alba in Italy: data from fauna recovery centers show a patchy decline

    Fulvio Fraticelli, Veronica Burresi, Angela Damiano, Giovanni Giardina, Nicola Maggi, Francesca Manzia, Davide Tartari, Marco Gustin

    Abstract     Read Article       Download
    129 422

    The conservation status of the barn owl at continental level is not
    favourable. A way to assess the success and effectiveness of
    conservation actions regarding the Strigiformes is to use data collected
    at recovery centres that host thousands of individuals.
    Individual barn owl’s information were collected at their arrival in six
    recovery-centres in Italy, two in northern Italy, two in central and
    two in southern Italy. Data were analysed for 1.393 Barn Owls recovered
    from 1993 to 2016. Four different recovery reasons were used to classify
    the individuals: i) trauma, ii) intoxication, iii) illegal hunting, iv)
    other. In three of the six centers we found a significant decrease of
    hospitalized Barn owls over the years, possibly because of changes in
    the local situations. The percentage of chicks recovered is low. Traffic
    death rate significantly affects young owls during their post-fledgling
    dispersal period and at a local level, this effect could contribute
    significantly to the demographic collapse of the populations,
    contributing to a patchy decline of the species in Italy.
    The collision with motor vehicles proved to be the primary cause of
    hospitalization, but the recovery due to illegal hunting is significant
    too, in particular in central and southern Italy.
    To limit the use of anticoagulant rodenticides, turns out to be a
    necessary and urgent action to help this species.

  6. Short note - A case of spatial coexistence among black wheatear Oenanthe leucura, black-eared wheatear Oenanthe hispanica and blue rock thrush Monticola solitarius in the western Mediterranean

    Claudio Açaí Bracho Estévanez

    Abstract     Read Article       Download
    146 313

    The coexistence of similar species is determined by resource
    partitioning, while the exploitation of the same resource could lead to
    competitive exclusion scenarios. The breeding distribution of birds like
    the Black Wheatear (Oenanthe leucura), the Black-Eared Wheatear
    (Oenanthe hispanica) and the Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius)
    overlaps in open, rocky areas of the Western Mediterranean but so far,
    the degree of spatial segregation/overlap is poorly understood. Here, we
    used MAXENT to build species distribution models and investigate how
    the habitat preferences of those three species shape coexistence
    patterns in a coastal protected area of the Western Mediterranean.
    Within the study area the Black Wheatear is completely restricted to
    quarries with a predicted distribution of 162 ha. We found that the
    Black and Black-Eared Wheatears responded to a vegetation-vigour
    gradient that limits their interspecific territorial overlap (145.3 ha)
    to sunny slopes. The Blue Rock Thrush presence is mostly affected by
    slope gradient, although tolerating different vegetation-vigour levels,
    but overlapping with the Black Wheatear (32.1 ha) in quarry areas and
    with the Black-Eared Wheatear (62.8 ha) in steep, rocky slopes. Within
    the studied area, quarries appear as a key habitat favouring the
    coexistence of sympatric breeding species.

  7. Columns - Italian Bird Rarities Committee (COI) - Report 29

    Egidio Fulco & Cristiano Liuzzi (ed.)

    Abstract     Read Article       Download
    349 632

    Italian Birds Rarities Committee (COI) – Report
    29. This report refers to records from January 1st to December 31st
    2019, with the addition of a number of records from previous years that were
    submitted more recently. For each species, the records are listed by date and information
    is given as follows: English and scientific name, number of accepted records
    pre-  and post-1950 (the numbers in this
    abstract refer to the total number of records), number of individuals if more
    than one, age or plumage and sex if known, location, date, names of the
    observers, and documentation (photograph, sound recording, specimen, etc.).
    Taxonomy follow the new CISO-COI Italian Checklist
    (https://www.ciso-coi.it/coi/checklist-ciso-coi-degli-uccelli-italiani/), which
    also includes subspecies and follows the taxonomy adopted by the HBW-BirdLife
    Check-list, as decided by the CISO council in 2018. A total of 35 submissions
    involving 25 taxa were assessed. The following 30 records, involving 23 taxa,
    were accepted, including four first records for Italy (Cat. AERC: A – COI
    Category 1A, 1B): Pallas’s Sandgrouse Syrraptes paradoxus (Tuscany 1961; 2nd
    record post-1949); Little Swift Apus affinis (two records: Sardinia 2017;
    Sicily 2019; 3rd-4th records); Great Shearwater Ardenna gravis (2nd record);
    Brown Booby Sula leucogaster (Latium 2019; Tuscany 2019; Liguria 2019; 5th-7th
    records); American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica (Tuscany 2019; 2nd
    record); Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii (Latium 2016; 7th
    record);‘Russian Mew Gull’ Larus canus heinei (Lombardy 2019; first record for
    this sub-species in Italy); Rüppel’s Vulture Gyps ruepellii (Sicily, 2019;
    first record); Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus (Sicily, 2019; first record); Brown
    Shrike Lanius cristatus (Friuli Venezia Giulia, 2019; 2nd record); Isabelline
    Shrike Lanius isabellinus (Apulia, 2019; 9th record); Steppe Grey Shrike Lanius
    excubitor pallidirostris (two records: Sardinia 2018; Apulia 2019; 6th-7th
    records); ‘Desert Grey Shrike’ Lanius excubitor elegans/algeriensis (three
    records: Sicily 2017; 8th 10th records); Brown-necked Raven Corvus ruficollis (Sicily 2019; 2nd record);
    Olivaceous Warbler Iduna pallida cf. elaeica (Latium 2019; 8th record);
    Isabelline Warbler Iduna opaca (Latium 2016; 7th record); Paddyfield Warbler Acrocephalus
    Agricola (two records: Latium 2018, 2019; 27th-28th record). Brichetti &
    Fracasso (2020) list 28 records, but only 7 have been assessed by COI, in part
    due to the fact that the previous numerical threshold used by COI meant that
    some of these records would not have been submitted; Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler Phylloscopus
    orientalis (Lombardy 2019; 5th record); Iberian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus ibericus
    (Sicily 2019; 5th record); Ehrenberg’s Redstart Phoenicurus
    phoenicurus samamisicus (Latium 2019; first record for this subspecies in
    Italy); ‘Caspian Stonechat’ Saxicola torquatus hemprichii (Sicily 2019; 4th
    record); Black-throated Accentor Prunella atrogularis (Ligury 2019; 2nd
    record); Blyth’s Pipit Anthus godlewskii (Latium 2019, 3rd record). The
    addition of Rüppel’s Vulture and Red-eyed Vireo brings the Italian list to 550 accepted
    species. Rejected records (COI List 5A, 5B) were: Iberian Chiffchaff
    Phylloscopus ibericus (two records, both Latium 2016); ‘Sykes’s Yellow Wagtail’
    Motacilla flava bema (two records: Tuscany 1989; Calabria 2019); Eastern
    Orphean Warbler Sylvia crassirostris (Tuscany, 2019). Two records are still
    pending and are not included here.

  8. Columns - PhD dissertation review in ornithology (fourth edition)

    Letizia Campioni (ed.)

    Abstract     Read Article       Download
    114 327
    This is the forth PhD-thesis
    collection in the ornithological research that Avocetta is glad to present to
    its readers. Compared to the previous reviews, this time there is a novelty! We
    extended our collection by including the theses of Italian ornithologists who
    chose to carry out their PhD abroad or in collaboration with foreign
    institutions. In fact, over the last decades, the number of Italian students (of
    all disciplines) who preferred an international PhD programme has been growing
    due to the availability of EU funded scholarships and the explicit recognition,
    by the National Research Program, that international mobility and training
    experience abroad is fundamental during PhD studies and for professional
    development (Tocchioni and Petrucci 2020).
    This PhD-thesis collection aims to
    offer an overview on the diversity of the research lines that exists in
    ornithology (both in Italy and Europe) and on the advances that have been made
    by young researchers through the completion of their thesis. We collected and
    reviewed the theses defended between the 2017/2018 and 2019/2020 academic years
    in European and Italian Universities by contacting colleagues, students and by
    using the social media to spread the voice. As already stated in the previous
    reviews, despite some thesis may have been passed overlooked to this review, it
    is evident how a large proportion (50%) of the reviewed ones has been defended
    in foreign universities. This figure is encouraging as it shows that Italian
    university and the ornithological community are able to stimulate and make
    students passionate about ornithological questions. Nevertheless, it highlights
    how many of these students choose to move abroad to carry out their PhD. This
    trend may suggest that Italian university are not able to adequately respond to
    the demand of all students nor to attract foreign students to compensate for
    who leave the country. Moreover, the total number of theses we compiled from
    2013/2014 up to now (eight academic years) adds up to merely 24. Should we look
    at this number as an “alarm bell” for the Italian ornithological community? Likely
    we should, because in the long run, ornithologists may see its representation
    in academia critically reduced. To maintain the Italian ornithological research
    viable, and to adapt to this changing scenario where student mobility through
    European programme is highly encourage, it would be important for the Italian
    researchers to strength their collaborations with foreign
    institutions/researchers.
    Before presenting the main
    ornithological topics covered by the theses, it is worth noting that the
    valuable work done by these young ornithologists and the relevance of their
    results have already been recognised by the scientific community. Indeed,
    around 23 research papers (extracted from the theses) have been already
    published on peer reviewed international journals of broad ecological interest
    (see the reference list at the end of the review). Finally, we want to
    highlight that in the present PhD-student group there is an unbalanced
    man:woman sex ratio (5:1) suggesting how ornithology is not exception to the overall
    and well-known gender biases that exist in science (Penner 2015).
    Overall, the thesis reviewed in this
    collection cover topics related to different aspects of migration ecology (3
    theses), climate change and conservation (2), vocal communication and function
    of signalling (1) and behavioural strategies and learning in social groups (1).
    The theses present results based on field-collected data (including the use of
    remote tracking telemetry) as well as on experiments carried out in aviary. The
    theses are presented in order according to the academic year and alphabetic order
    of the PhD candidate surname. Last note, the content of the abstracts has not
    been reviewed, hence the authors are accountable for it.

  9. Bird news - June 2021

    Gaia Bazzi (ed.)

    Abstract     Read Article       Download
    167 309

    This column aims to collect a series of interesting observations and to make it accessible to the scientific community in
    future. We collect observations without time, space or species limitation but we focus on a limited series of category of
    interest. See more on Avocetta website: https://www.avocetta.org/bird-news-column/

  10. Book reviews - June 2021

    Michelangelo Morganti and Roberto Ambrosini

    Abstract     Read Article       Download
    101 277

    Review of the recently published book:

           “All the birds of the
    world”del Hoyo, J. (Ed.)
    (2020). Lynx Edicions:
    Barcelona. ISBN 978-84-16728-37-4. 968 pp.


    Roulin A., 2020. Barn owls: evolution and ecology. Cambridge University Press,
    Cambridge, UK. 297 p.